Imee wants soldiers to stay for Ilocos Norte's internal security
by Cristina Arzadon
Laoag City (15 September) -- Ilocos Norte may have been declared as free from communist rebels but Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos wants Philippine Army troops to stay put and continue to strengthen the province's internal security.
Marcos said residents would be more comfortable knowing that soldiers are in their posts to keep the province secured from any threats despite reports showing that former rebel territories have been cleared from insurgents.
"We need you. We feel better when we know you are here," Marcos said during the first Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting held under her term.
Representatives from the Army's 503rd Brigade had suggested that internal security could now be handled by the Philippine National Police since former enemy territories have been declared non-rebel zones.
In a report yesterday, Col. Essel Soriano, Commander of the PA's 503rd Brigade, said Ilocos Norte has been cleared as an insurgent zone even as nine villages spread out in the towns of Badoc, Nueva Era and Pinili remain to be under threat from rebel soldiers.
The Army troops later clarified that they were not pulling out from the province and promised to play an active role in maintaining internal security.
Meanwhile, Marcos was dissatisfied with the PNP's report on the peace and order situation saying that the crime volume was up while the crime solution efficiency from January to September this year was down compared to the same period last year.
"This is a depressing report. We must intensify our campaign on loose firearms. If there are no guns, then no one will be fired upon," she said.
Marcos was reacting to a report showing that the crime volume this year was recorded at 304 cases compared to last year's 258. The same report also showed the crime solution efficiency dropping from 96 percent last year to 86 percent this year.
Of the crime volume this year, 26 percent was attributed to murder while homicide cases were pegged at 22 percent.
For his part, retired police colonel-now provincial board member Fidel Cimatu said the PNP must take a pro-active stance in solving crimes.
He said CCTVs (closed-circuit television) must be installed in key areas around the province to help the PNP in monitoring peace and order.
He also advised the police to improve on its image to tourists in the wake of uproar from the bungled hostage-taking incident at the Quirino grandstand. (PIA Ilocos Norte) [top]